Monday, November 5, 2012

Foreign Aide. the ARA and the Great Famine

I could never run for office.  If I did I'd be like New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or Chicago Mayor Rom Emanuel where I'd be swearing and yelling the entire time. I'd be doing this mostly because I'd be frustrated with voters, not so much with red tape or the media. Everyone agrees that the government spends too much ... across the board everyone seems to agree. The huge unmanageable Federal Deficit is proof to this. The bone of contention is what to cut. The more specific about spending-cuts any politician gets, the more intense the voters freak out. If a politician wants to cut medicare, seniors freak out ... he/she wants to "kill grandma."  Cut defense spending ... he/she is "unpatriotic" or "giving aid to the terrorists."  I don't know how politicians do it.  I will never run for office, so I have a certain level of respect for those who do (while I yell and complain about them myself). The only expense voters consistently poll as unpopular, across the board, is foreign aide. The $1 billion that the Obama Administration gave to the new Egyptian government seems to have pissed off everyone, conservatives and liberals alike.

I don't purport to be an expert on this subject, not in the least. But I do know that sometimes spending now can greatly decrease your expenses later. A thriving and stable Democracy in Egypt would be advantageous to everyone and in the long run save us money. We look towards history for examples of these types of situations.

Over 5 million people died during the Great Famine in Russia in 1921 and 1922.  Many years of war (the Russian Revolution, World War I and the Russian Civil War) left the Volga-Ural region devastated and starving. Much of the nation's infrastructure was no longer functioning. Only 30% of their railroads remained. Corruption and a bloated bureaucracy were mostly to blame for the famine, not drought or any other natural disaster. The pictures I have seen of the famine are horrendous. The American Relief Administration (ARA) headed by future president Herbert Hoover helped provide relief to the starving. They employed hundreds of Americans, thousands of Russians and fed millions.

Hoover believed that the Russian people would see what we were doing and revolt against their own government. That didn't happen, but this generation of children did become the army that fought the Nazis. If we wouldn't have assisted, the famine would have lasted longer. The Russian army that held Hitler at bay during those awful Russian winters of World War II, may not have done so if not for the relief from ARA many years earlier. A small amount of foreign aid  in the 1920's quite possible saved us all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Possibly so, and possibly arguable. All I've learned about the ARA, was how corrupt and useless if not by it's own doing ,then by the bureaucracy of the soviets. They pulled food stocks from impoverished regions and centralized without properly redirecting but instead hoarded. Much food (their own and aided)never reached the peasants and spoiled in box cars. You may have a figure of those saved, I would suspect the losses are harder to find. As for holding Hitler, thank the Leningrad population. (devastating loses)